Advent celebration at Pickering Road Community Orchard

Photography © Jerome Whittingham for Back To Ours

About 70 people enjoyed an ‘Advent in the Orchard’ event last weekend, on a sunny and surprisingly mild Sunday afternoon at Pickering Road Community Orchard.

Artists Linda King and Ali Bullivent have been visiting the Pickering Road Community Orchard regularly since September, engaging with the site’s many volunteers and visitors. Their residency at the orchard is a project commissioned by Back To Ours.

Back To Ours is Hull’s Arts Council England funded Creative People and Places project. Its aim is to make a lasting change in communities, increasing the number of people inspired by the arts, growing creativity in the city’s neighbourhoods.

Thom Freeth is producer at Back To Ours, he said: “Linda and Ali’s project is one of a number of Back to Ours creative commissions working directly in communities across Hull. They originally told us about wanting to make the most of Pickering Road Community Orchard’s harvest season.  Using singing, story gathering and land art, they’ve had a very creative conversation with visitors to the site. The orchard is such a special community resource, with plenty to inspire our artists in residence and those they have worked with.”

Pickering Road Community Orchard has approximately 350 trees, which were planted in 2003 and 2004. The trees are mainly varieties of apple, with some pears and also plums. There are also brambles and bee hives on the site. Next to the orchard there is a wildlife garden which is also maintained by the orchard volunteers.

“Working at the orchard is my project from heaven,” said artist Linda. “Working outside on the land, in beauty, in harmony with the seasons, and being part of an inclusive community. It is an extraordinary and blessed opportunity with potential for lots of further development. My involvement with the orchard has been another wonderful and unexpected surprise, having lived away from Hull for many years, only recently returning again – to what feels like a very different city.”

The Advent in the Orchard event was formed from ideas that sprung up in conversations Linda and Ali have had with orchard volunteers and visitors.

Ali said: “We spent much time just talking with people, hearing their stories, enjoying finding out from them about the history of the area. We encouraged people to let us know what art activities they might enjoy, to write creatively, to draw collectively what they saw and felt, and to join in making music in clearings under the trees. We came up with the idea of an Advent Celebration to mark the time of the year when all is quiet and still, and we wait for the season to turn and the light to return.

“Together, we created a promenade event with stories, characters and songs, culminating in planting bulbs, walking the advent spiral, making Christmas wreaths, and drinking hot spiced apple juice with seasonal cakes. Volunteers and visitors to the orchard took on the character roles and created a magical and inclusive event.”

Website: Back To Ours

Website: Pickering Road Community Orchard

[Jerome Whittingham – for Back To Ours]